What is the value of the national infrastructure? What value do people get from being members rather than just attending events? How do we attract new corporate marketing members and leaders? Should there be a focused effort at attracting “millennials” to BMA and b-to-b marketing.
Those were some of the main topics discussed at this year’s Business Marketing Association Chapter Leader Day at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. This session preceded the national conference which kicks-off today, June 10, at noon. (Agenda highlights in previous posts.) Attendees included more than 50 local BMA chapter officers from across the country.
I didn’t say much during the sessions yesterday. Was too busy thinking about my next tweet! But here are my quick thoughts and opinions based on my history with the BMA and what I heard yesterday during the sessions and subsequent conversations with leaders.
A strong national infrastructure and centralized management makes local chapters stronger. If done properly, and BMA is well on its way to improving its core, a national infrastructure can provide chapters – especially smaller chapters in smaller markets – resources and opportunities for growth that could not be attained alone. A strong national presence also gives local members a sense of belonging to a bigger cause than what they do at work on a daily basis or locally as part of a standalone chapter.
Membership has his benefits and national is doing its best to formalize and communicate the great benefits that individuals get by becoming members. Of course there are financial benefits through discounts to events and members-only opportunities. But at the end of the day, membership means that you support a movement and cause that is business-to-business marketing. If you are in the profession and you want to see it grow and thrive and be more respected, then joining and getting involved is a way to support it. That may not be as tangible to some people, but in the long run a strong organization that supports, leads, advocates and helps grow what we do, it becomes tangible over time.
A big theme of the incoming national leadership is to attract more corporate marketers to the national board, as well as help local chapters attract more marketers to their boards. On the national level, it is not only recruiting corporate marketers. Rather, it is recruiting board members who have a history and ties to local chapters. And most importantly, are willing to work to help advance the goals of the organization. As was the case in Chicago, you get big time corporate marketing speakers. You get them to join your boards. You get them and their teams active. The rest (agencies, suppliers, academics, students) will follow.
Lastly, I love the fact that many chapters are reaching out to youngsters in the profession or still in school and spreading the word about b-to-b marketing and BMA. It should be more of an education/awareness initiative rather than communicating the great things b-to-b has to offer. I have no stats on this, but I would think the majority of marketing and communications jobs out there are b-to-b in some way. But youngsters in undergrad and grad schools are totally focused on reaching consumers. Which is not a bad thing to get into, but and education of the fact that there are differences and there are a group of people and an organization that promotes b-to-b would be valuable in of itself.